Famous people

East Ayrshire has produced many famous names who have gone on to gain international recognition. 

Alexander Allan

Alexander Allan, Captain Sandy Allan (1780-1854) was born in 1780 on Fairlie Estate, Dundonald - one and a half miles west of the village of Gatehead. Sandy was apprenticed to a shoemaker in Kilmarnock. He worked ten hours per day, except Sundays. In 1800, when he was employed as a journeyman shoemaker near Galston, Sandy moved to Saltcoats, intent on learning to be a ship's carpenter, but gave it up to go to sea. 

John Baird

John Baird, draper, architect and benefactor, was born in 1813, at Lugar Street, Cumnock, where his father David kept the Tup Inn. 

James Boswell

Essayist James Boswell, friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson, lived in Auchinleck for many years.

George Douglas Brown

George Douglas Brown (author) who sometimes wrote under the pen names Kennedy King and George Douglas, was born on 26 January 1869 in Ochiltree, Ayrshire to George Douglas Brown, a farmer, and Sarah Gemmel a farm-servant of Irish descent.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns had many associations with the area. He farmed at Mossgiel, lived in Mauchline with Jean Armour and his 'First Edition' was printed in Kilmarnock. Many prominent Kilmarnock people were his friends, and several of his poems feature local people and settings.

David Campbell

David Campbell, President of the General Medical Council, was born at Patna, Ayrshire on 6 May 1889 to Agnes Smith Campbell, a seamstress.

Stewart Conn

Stewart Conn (author) was born in Glasgow in 1936 and moved to Kilmarnock, Ayrshire in 1942 where his family had roots close by at Craigie Hill. Stewart's immediate family moved to Kilmarnock when his father, the Rev. Dr John Conn, was appointed minister of St Marnock's Church. Stewart attended Kilmarnock Academy and his school record is still preserved there.

David Dale

David Dale, (1739-1806), who was born in Stewarton, founded model industrial communities at Catrine and New Lanark.

Andrew Fisher

Andrew Fisher of Crosshouse became the Prime Minister of Australia.

Alexander Fleming

Alexander Fleming was born just outside Darvel and went on to identify penicillin. 

Lady Flora Hastings

Lady Flora Hastings was one of the daughters of Loudoun Castle and a lady in waiting at the court of the young Queen Victoria.

James Keir Hardie

James Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party, lived in Cumnock for most of his life. 

Thomas Kennedy

Thomas Kennedy was a native of Argyllshire, but settled in Kilmarnock as a watch and clockmaker. 

John Latta

John Latta (1867-1946) was born on 9 May 1867 in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire. He had his early schooling in Cumnock before proceeding to Ayr Academy and then to the Greenock firm of Craig and Scott.

John MacIntosh

John Macintosh (author) was born in Galston in June 1853 to John Macintosh and Margaret Aird. He was the author of many articles on a wide range of subjects, and these appeared in journals and magazines all over the country. For a long series of years he was a regular contributor to the columns of the Kilmarnock Standard.

Alexander Morton

Alexander Morton (1844-1923) was born in a weaver's cottage in Darvel, in 1844. One of his forebears was John Morton, a blacksmith, who fought at the Battle of Drumclog. His father Gavin (Guy) Morton was a weaver and a woodman on the Lanfine Estate.

William Murdoch

William Murdoch (scientist) was born at Bello Mill, Lugar. Educated at Cumnock school he assisted his father in the millwright business before moving on to work for James Watt and Mathew Boulton at the Soho foundry near Birmingham.

Bill Shankly

Bill Shankly, the successful football manager, came from the village of Glenbuck.

Robert Tannahill

Robert Tannahill (author), son of James Tannahill and Janet Pollock who left Kilmarnock in 1756 for Paisley to find work in the textile trade.

Johnnie Walker

Johnnie Walker marketed his 'Walker's Kilmarnock Whisky' which then became 'Johnnie Walker's'.

William Wallace

William Wallace may have been born at Ellerslie near Kilmarnock; his father's stronghold was at Riccarton. 

People in sport

Information about people in sport from East Ayrshire.

Contact Information

Arts And Museums (East Ayrshire Leisure Trust)
Telephone: 01563 554350
rating button